Pope tells theologians that the Church is woman, let us de-masculinize her

Speaking impromptu to members of the International Theological Commission (which has only five women members), Francis announced that the next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will be dedicated to the Church’s feminine dimension. Speaking about the 1,700th anniversary of the profession of faith of the Council of Nicaea, which will be celebrated in 2025, he again called for the celebration of Easter on the same day for all Christians.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke to members of the International Theological Commission in audience at the Vatican this morning. In his address, the pontiff said that “The Church is woman. And if we do not know what a woman is, what the theology of a woman is, we will never understand what the Church is.”

“Thank you for what you do. Theology, theological reflection, is very important. But there is something about you that I do not like; pardon my sincerity,” he said realising that only five of the 28-member commission were women, all pontifical appointment.

“We must advance in this,” he noted. “Women have a capacity for theological reflection that is different to that of us men. It will be because I have studied the theology of a woman a great deal. I was helped by a good German woman, Hanna-Barbara Gerl, on Guardini.”

Francis announced that, at the next meeting with the Council of Nine Cardinals representing all continents who help him governing the Church, “we will reflect on the feminine dimension of the Church.”

In fact, “One of the great sins we have had is to ‘masculinize’ the Church. And this is not solved by the ministerial path; that is something else. It is resolved in the mystical way, the real way.

“Balthasar’s thought has brought me so much light: Petrine principle and Marian principle. This can be debated, but the two principles are there. The Marian is more important than the Petrine, because there is the bride Church, the woman Church, without being masculine.

“And you will ask me: where does this discussion lead? Not only to tell you that you should have more women here – that is one thing – but to help reflect. The Church as woman, the Church as a bride. And this is a task that I ask of you, please. To make the Church less masculine.”

In addition to these few words spoken without a prepared text, Pope Francis – who is still struggling with a respiratory inflammation that makes it hard for him to speak and forced him to cancel his trip to Dubai – spoke to the International Theological Commission stressing the importance of the anniversary of the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea whose profession of faith will be celebrated in 2025 to coincide with the jubilee.

For the pontiff, rediscovering this council is important for three reasons. The first one is spiritual. “In Nicaea, faith was professed in Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father: He who was made man for us and for our salvation is ‘God from God, light from light’. This is not only the light of an unthinkable knowledge, but the light that illuminates existence with the love of the Father.”

The second reason is synodal. “In Nicaea the first ecumenical Council was held, in which the Church was able to express her nature, her faith, her mission to be [. . .].  Theologians are entrusted with the great responsibility of unleashing the richness of this wonderful ‘humanizing energy’.”

Lastly, there is an ecumenical motive. “How can we not recall the extraordinary relevance of this anniversary for the journey towards the full unity of Christians? Indeed, not only does the Symbol of Nicaea unite Jesus’ disciples, but precisely in 2025, providentially, the date of the celebration of Easter will coincide for all Christian denominations. How beautiful if would be if this marked the concrete start of an always common celebration of Easter!”